Drinking water in Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline will be tested for forever chemicals.

The testing comes after residents in Buffalo found out their water contains potentially dangerous levels of the chemicals. The three cities hired a water testing company in Chicago to conduct a joint planning study.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a national primary drinking water regulation to mitigate exposure to PFAS earlier this year. Rock Island city engineers say they are preparing for the change.

“PFAS is a class of manmade chemicals, characterized by long chains with fluorine in it,” Jay Brady, Principal Environmental Engineer at Stanley Consultants, said. “What I can tell you is according to the EPA, there are concerns about long term exposure of humans to PFAS compounds.”

In March, the EPA proposed a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) requiring PFAS levels in drinking water to be lowered significantly. That proposal is expected to go into effect later this year. The regulation was based on the health effects of PFAS on a person’s body.

“There are concerns about long term exposure of humans to PFAS compounds, things like some cancers, some autoimmune type issues,” Brady said. “Mothers and mothers-to-be, people that are feeding their babies, are some susceptibility to some adverse effects.”

The Environmental Working Group provided a chart of PFAS tests on its website that shows the Quad Cities having the second highest levels of PFAS out of 31 states tested.

“The chemicals have become widespread in our environment,” Brady said. “They move through the water and through the air both, so they’re pretty persistent. In fact, most of our population in the country have some level of PFAS in their bodies.”

Brady said people should stay cautious about the high level of PFAS in the Quad Cities. “There’s a concern obviously,” Brady said. “People have a right to be concerned, but what I can tell you is the science and the standards are still evolving.”

Brady also said you can mitigate PFAS exposure at home by using several kinds of filters, including Granule Activated Carbon, Reverse Osmosis and Nano Filtration. Brady said the key is to make sure to buy products that are proven certified to remove PFAS.